The 14-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in St. George’s has announced its decision to compensate over 200 investors affected by the compulsory acquisition of the Kimpton Kawana Bay Project property.
Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell made the announcement during a press conference held on Tuesday.
“Anyone who has an interest in the property will have an opportunity to present any claims for an evaluation of their interest in the property, and will be compensated accordingly,” stated Prime Minister Mitchell.
The administration has reached a $22 million settlement deal with the developers of the hotel in order to bring an end to arbitration proceedings which began in 2021.
The dispute had its origins in 2016 when the then Dr. Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) regime approved a proposal by True Blue Development for funding the Kimpton Kawana Bay Project under the Citizen by Investment (CBI) Programme.
However, in March-April 2021, Grenada halted the approval of CBI applications for the project, citing financial discrepancies.
This was followed by a public spat between then Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and one of the principal developers Ambassador Warren Newfield in which the Grenadian leader accused the non-national of being racist.
Newfield halted work on the project and decided to take Grenada to the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) that was established in 1966 to settle the issue in which it was seeking $111 million in compensation.
Upon taking office in June 2022, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell decided to give priority to finding a resolution to the project.
A committee comprising retired banker Richard Duncan, attorney Leslie-Ann Seon, businessmen Hassan Hadeed and Accountant Henry Joseph was set up to negotiate on Grenada’s behalf with the developers.
Current Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell, came out publicly and voiced his disagreement with the government’s handling of the project and expressed concerns about the potential financial implications for the island in agreeing to the arrangement.
He said the country could be left “holding the bag in so many areas” attributing the situation to “arrogance, ignorance, and the lack of understanding of the (future) implications…of the shareholders who have invested through the CBI programme.”
Attorney-General Claudette Joseph, however, clarified that the acquisition of Kawana Bay Property was not a financial burden to the state.
She emphasized that the settlement at $22 million was significantly lower than the $111 million initially sought by the developers in the arbitration.
“Just to clarify for the listening public, the State of Grenada was sued for US$111 million, and we settled the dispute for US$22 million, which is less than a third of what we were sued for,” said the female Attorney-General Joseph, who also serves as the Minister for Legal Affairs.
Sen. Joseph pointed out that “in the arbitration claim, there was no claim to the property (the land) as such because the property was owned by the True Blue developers,” and that “in the settlement, we were able to get the property back for the people of Grenada, and that settled the arbitration dispute.”
The Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime was taken before ICSID by WRB Enterprise following another dispute with the majority investor in Grenlec and was forced to come up with close to EC$200 million dollars to repurchase the island’s sole electricity company.